By Matt Sheehan
Last updated: 11/27/13 2:33pm
Seeing friends and family over Thanksgiving break? Are you a student season ticket holder for MSU football? Well, you can now combine the two into one day at Spartan Stadium.
MSU is allowing student season ticket holders to bring a guest with them to Saturday’s game against Minnesota (noon, BTN). The emailed flyer states the guest does not have to be a student, and both should enter through the student section gates upon arrival.
By Stephen Brooks
Last updated: 11/26/13 12:22am
Darqueze Dennard’s stellar senior season continues to earn him recognition and publicity across the country.
The cornerback was named one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation’s best defensive back. Dennard joins fellow corners Lamarcus Joyner from Florida State and Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State as the three candidates for the trophy.
Dennard also was selected as one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy for the top defensive player in the country last week.
He is the first Spartan ever named as a finalist for the award, and the second chosen as a Thorpe finalist behind Todd Krumm in 1987.
The Nagurski Trophy winner will be announced on Dec. 9 while the Thorpe Award will be dished out with a bevy of other honors at The Home Depot College Football Awards show Dec. 12 on ESPN.
In Saturday’s Legends Division-clinching win against Northwestern, Dennard recorded a career-high nine tackles and his fourth interception of the season, also a career-best. His 47 tackles in 2013 rank him fifth on the team, and his seven pass breakups lead all Spartans.
Dennard, who was ranked as the nation’s No. 3 defensive player by CBSSports.com’s Bruce Feldman, has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl all-star game after the season before he’ll likely be a high round selection in the NFL Draft. He has been a three-year starter at corner for a top-10 ranked MSU defense, and emerged as one of the most vital cogs of the current top-ranked unit.
On a Monday when multiple award finalists were named, junior punter Mike Sadler was not among them in contention for the Ray Guy Award. Sadler was chosen as one of 10 finalists on Nov. 8 and expected to be among the favorites to win the hardware. When the list was cut to three, only Purdue’s Cody Webster, Memphis’ Tom Hornsey and Texas A&M’s Drew Kaser remained.
No other MSU players are in contention for major individual awards this season.
By Stephen Brooks
Last updated: 11/18/13 4:52pm
If everything went according to plan, MSU’s fourth-quarter fake field goal — code name: Charlie Brown — would not have happened.
“I was excited to run it because every time we ran it in practice I ended up scoring a touchdown,” junior punter Mike Sadler said.
“But the look that they gave us was different, and I was actually supposed to check out of that and we were supposed to kick a field goal.”
Sadler didn’t notice the different alignment at the time, and went ahead with the fake instead of a 45-yard field goal attempt from freshman kicker Michael Geiger.
The situation required additional ad-libbing after the snap. Sadler said Charlie Brown is designed to be an outside run to the right (MSU also has “Lucy” in its playbook, the same play going to the left) but the hole was clogged so he turned it inside to grind out three yards and a first down.
An attempt at deception turned into a power run for the 192-pound punter with Geiger assuming the role of lead-blocker through the teeth of the defense.
So did Geiger throw a good block up the middle?
“I have no idea. I’m just gonna go ahead and assume no,” Sadler said. “I’ll have to watch film. I just remember being picked up … I’m just glad that I lived to see another day.”
Head coach Mark Dantonio has established a reputation for special teams trickery, and Sadler’s run Saturday setup a Connor Cook touchdown pass that put the Spartans in control the rest of the way.
Sadler has become something of a secret weapon for MSU, rushing for 25 and 26 yards on fake punts at Iowa this season (that one was coined “Hey Diddle Diddle Send Sadler Up the Middle) and at Michigan in 2012.
“At some point in time your head football coach has got to take chances,” Dantonio said. “That’s the basic thing. I told our football team at halftime, hey, we’re gonna roll the dice, and that’s what we were gonna do. I’d already made up my mind on that series if we got within field goal range than we were running the fake — Charlie Brown.”
Cook said he was confident in the call considering the team’s success rate when running it in practice, and noted Sadler has “one of the strongest bench presses” on the team.
“He’s a really, really strong guy. Doesn’t really look like it, but he’s a lot stronger than you think,” Cook said. “… Anytime the ball’s in his hands I feel comfortable, I feel like he’s gonna protect it and if he has to lower his shoulder, he’s gonna.”
“What was it? Fourth-and-1 or fourth-and-2? I figured we could at least get that with Sadler running the ball up the middle,” senior linebacker Max Bullough added.
By Stephen Brooks
Last updated: 11/14/13 8:41pm
Jay DatBull is now a Bronco.
Jay Harris, a former MSU recruit in the class of 2013, has committed to play football at Western Michigan. He never played in East Lansing in the wake of releasing a music video in which he was seen smoking marijuana under the name Jay DatBull, called “DatBull 4 Life.”
Harris, a three-star wide receiver prospect, tweeted the news Wednesday night:
MLive reported Harris returned to football via junior college and a prep school. Rivals.com now lists him as part of the 2014 class.
By Stephen Brooks
Last updated: 11/11/13 9:38pm
Much has been said and written about the outstanding MSU defense this season, which remains the No. 1-ranked unit in the nation.
But one of its biggest assets, junior punter Mike Sadler, quietly has put together an exceptional season and was honored as a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award, which is given to the top punter in the country each year.
He leads the nation in punts downed inside the 10-yard line with 15, and is tied for second place with 22 kicks pinned inside the 20-yard line. Even more impressive, six of his 47 punts have been downed inside the 5, including a pair on the 1-yard line.
The Grand Rapids, Mich., native averages 42.8 yards on his punts, ranking him second in the Big Ten and No. 25 nationally. In 2012, Sadler was a first-team All-Big Ten selection with an average of 43.3 yards.
“Mike Sadler has helped make us a great defense with his precision placement of punts this fall,” defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said in a release from the athletics department. “… That gives our offense a short field to work with.”
In MSU’s 42-28 win against Indiana, Sadler notched a career-high average of 59.2 yards on four punts, highlighted by a season-best 69-yard boot.
Freshman Cameron Johnson from Ohio State and Purdue senior Cody Webster round out the Big Ten semifinalists.
By Dillon Davis
Last updated: 11/10/13 6:09pm
After a 1-8 start to the season, Eastern Michigan fired head football coach Ron English last week, ending a five-season run for the former Michigan defensive coordinator.
However, the Detroit News reported a story Saturday that leaked audio of an epic tirade by English directed at his players played a role in his dismissal.
During the meltdown, English tells his team they’re playing “shitbird football,” later referring to the team as a group of “quitting ass bitches.” English also tells his team he does not respect them and calls them “f****t ass motherf***ers.”
Eastern Michigan Director of Athletics Heather Lyke released a statement about the audio, making it clear that type of behavior is not welcome in the program.
“I received a tape of a situation in which Coach English had addressed the team and used wholly inappropriate language,” Lyke said in a statement. “We hold our coaches and staff to high standards of professionalism and conduct and there is no place, particularly in a student environment, where this language is appropriate. The statements made by Coach English are absolutely unacceptable.
“My decision to make a change in leadership of our football program was the culmination of a lot of factors including the comprehensive review of our program, the competitive performance and this tape. Our primary interest is in the well being and success of our student-athletes and this will continue to be our priority in every decision we make and every action we take.
“My focus moving forward is on the quality of our student-athletes’ experience as well as the search process for the next leader of our football program.”
English later apologized for the language in an interview with the Associated Press.
“As a man who has coached 21 years, obviously, on this occasion and particular meeting, I lost my poise, got upset and used language that was inappropriate, particularly as it pertains to homosexual slurs. I regret that,” English told the AP in a telephone interview on Saturday. “I apologize to the university for putting it in this position and tarnishing its reputation. I look forward to continuing a career that has been marked by molding men of integrity, passion, and intensity for 21 years.”
The team already experienced a large blow this season with the death of EMU receiver Demarius Reed.
Reed was found dead outside his off-campus apartment on Oct. 18 from multiple gunshot wounds. His death came one day before the team was scheduled to play the Ohio Bobcats.
By Stephen Brooks
Last updated: 11/06/13 5:10pm
Mark Dantonio is the 51st-highest paid head coach in Division I, according to data released Wednesday by USA Today.
The newspaper created a database showing Dantonio’s 2013 compensation of $1,959,744 ranks him ninth among Big Ten coaches. He also can make an additional $650,000 in bonuses. Among the coaches in front of him are first-year men Gary Andersen at Wisconsin and Purdue’s Darrell Hazell.
Since 2008, MSU has won more Big Ten games than any program.
The entire list can be found here.
Former Spartan coach Nick Saban, now in his seventh year at Alabama, is the nation’s highest paid coach, raking in $5,545,852 this year.
Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke, the head coaches at football powerhouses Ohio State and Michigan both rank in the top 10 nationally. Meyer, who remains undefeated since taking over the Buckeyes program, will make $4,608,000 while Hoke rakes in $4,154,000.
Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, the longest tenured coach in the Big Ten, will make $3,985,000 — putting him ninth in the country — despite not winning a conference championship since 2004.
The remaining Big Ten coaches rank: No. 14 Bill O’Brien (Penn State), No. 18 Bo Pelini (Nebraska), No. 41 Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), No. 43 Hazell, No. 47 Andersen, No. 60 Tim Beckman (Illinois), No. 66 Kevin Wilson (Indiana) and No. 67 Jerry Kill (Minnesota).
By Dillon Davis
Last updated: 11/05/13 4:19pm
One thing I’ve discovered about covering MSU football is that fans have two primary interests: beating Michigan and uniform combinations.
A video released Tuesday gives them the best of both worlds.
Produced by Second Wind Creative with additional work from MSU video producer Ryan McPhail, the video hypes up MSU’s jersey combinations, showing sophomore defensive end Shilique Calhoun, junior safety Kurtis Drummond, sophomore quarterback Connor Cook and others modeling the uniforms.
The video shows MSU in the standard home green with white pants combination, the all white uniform with the green stripe on the shoulders, the Nike Pro Combat uniform from 2012 and the all green look from the weekend’s win over Michigan.
And not to mention, a powerful shot of Calhoun sacking U-M quarterback Devin Gardner as the music crescendos to the finish.
In a week of interesting videos of the MSU football team — of course I’m talking about the one of head coach Mark Dantonio dancing to “Type of Way — this one definitely is interesting as well.
By Darcie Moran
Last updated: 11/04/13 9:19pm
After a 29-6 win over Michigan on Saturday, MSU’s football team was so happy they could dance — and they apparently did, alongside head coach Mark Dantonio.
In an Instagram video posted on Saturday, the typically solemn coach is seen jumping and dancing to Rich Homie Quan’s “Type of Way” while surrounded by his players and grinning ear to ear.
After beating the Wolverines for the fifth time in six years, some might say the celebration was well-deserved.
To check out the video of Dantonio’s Spartan spirit, click here.
By Dillon Davis
Last updated: 10/30/13 7:24pm
Think back to 1988.
A gallon of gas cost 91 cents. Michael Jackson, U2 and Enya were atop the music charts. And not to mention, the MSU football team won the Rose Bowl — their most recent one to date.
Now, as the Spartans are chasing a trip back to Pasadena, a video resurfaced on Twitter this week showing a behind-the-scenes look at the Spartans’ locker room following the 1988 triumph over Southern California.
The video definitely is a throwback to a different era in college football, one that’s remembered fondly in East Lansing and the surrounding area. Let’s review.
First of all, MSU’s jerseys are phenomenal. It’s a different, slightly brighter shade of green than the current jerseys and features the throwback block S logo with a rose intertwined in the font. Most teams use a patch to denote a special occasion so I’m a huge proponent of integrating the rose into the logo.
Moments into the video, cornerback Craig Johnson enters the frame with his helmet off and his arms up in celebration, yelling “Yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah — Rose Bowl champs!” Following Johnson, linebacker Tony Briningstool yells “there’s nothing greener than Pasadena,” which receives a warm reception in the locker room.
One minute in, there’s a Bullough sighting — linebacker Chuck Bullough, who’s the uncle of current senior linebacker Max Bullough and freshman running back Riley Bullough. This family seriously is fueling the MSU football legacy. Keep mating, Bulloughs!
There’s a few moments of NSFW language, including a brief comment from free safety Maurice Chamberlain who enters the room with a zinger, “Pac 10, smack 10. They can all kiss my ass,” before whipping his head around to make sure no authority figures were in the room. But seriously, would it have mattered if they were?
Several minutes in, head coach George Perles enters the room, making his way past goofy glasses wearing assistant Nick Saban — whatever happened to that guy? — while the team circles around the longtime Spartan coach. Perles can’t quit smiling, obviously a little overwhelmed by the gravity of the moment. But before speaking, Perles and the team share the Lord’s prayer.
Then, center Patrick Shurmur leads the team in a group count to 20, which the only obvious explanation would be the amount of points the Spartans scored in the game, followed by MSU’s Fight Song. Even the traditional way of singing it saying “weakening” rather than a loud “weak” the way the crowd does now is refreshing.
But then it was Perles’ turn.
“Alright fellas, congratulations on the conference and congratulations on the Big Ten champs. You guys played a hell of a football game. It was tough; they’re a good football team. We can’t say anything but good things about them but today, you did it. It doesn’t matter if you did it by one point, three points, 30 points, 100 points — a victory is a victory. You take them one at a time; they all count one. This will be one great, great, great big one. But it proves one thing, it doesn’t matter if you stay on the beach, it doesn’t matter if — I’m awful proud of you and I’m proud the way you acted this whole week. It’s hard for me to say that kind of stuff. I can’t do it. But I’m very proud of you for the way you carried yourself and now, let’s not do anything to change that in the last day.”
OK, there’s a ton of coach-speak there — the “they all count one” remark has been a staple for current head coach Mark Dantonio since he joined the program in 2007. It’s almost eerie how similar they sound. But I really like this remarks by Perles.
It’s a candid moment before telling the team he doesn’t “give a shit” how they get back to East Lansing, so long as they get there. From there, the team proceeds to celebrate for another minute or so before it cuts to footage of another game that season at Spartan Stadium.
This video is an amazing flashback to a different time in Spartan football — one not experienced by myself of any member of the current team. And with the Spartans taking aim at another trip this season, it will be a treat to see what kind of footage comes out of that moment in time.